CIDER PAST AND PRESENT
In Colonial America, cider making began in the 1600s, as soon as apple trees took hold. As soon as they were able, farmers fermented the fruit. (Barley needed for beer thrives in'limey' soil, not the acidic soil of New England. As time went on, each garden, each farm had its apple trees. Apples were the mainstay fruit of New England:they were delicious, interesting, and lasted though the winter. They were pressed and fermented to lighten the days and evenings.
West County Cider hosted the first Cider Day in 1994, to mark 10 years of bonded fermentation. What began as a meeting of Boston beer brewers, plucky hill-farmers and carboys of fermentable cider has become a major gathering of cider zealots. Orchards throughout Franklin County host classes, tastings, walks. Cidermakers bring containers—and return home with apple juice to get 'working' over the winter...thus there is hope for a glass of pleasure in the Spring.
See ciderdays.org for information on the next CiderDasy weekend, which is always on the first weekend in November.
Apples have been the mainstay fruit of New England since English varieties were brought here with the Puritans. As soon as they were able, farmers fermented the fruit, since the barley needed for beer thrives in 'limey' soil, not the acidic soil of New England.
How well the apple trees thrived is indicated by Charles J. Taylor in his "History of Great Barrington" (l882).He states that by l770 the Indian path between the Stockbridge tribe at Great Barrington, Ma. and the Scaticoke village at Kent, Conn. (40 miles along the Housatonic), was lined with apple trees. They had sprung from apple cores thrown to the side by native Americans who had walked the path or canoed along the river.
Each garden, each farm had its apple trees. Orchardists experimented and sent their apple harvest to the growing cities, as well as to Europe. Yet much of the harvest was pressed each year, barreled and bunged for local pleasure.
"As one instance, Hartford, Vermont, farmers worked together in a cider club, making 24 barrels average per member." (p. 217, Howard Russell, A Long Deep Furrow, University Press of New England, Hanover, N.H., l976.)
John Chapman, 'Johnny Appleseed,' left Leominster, MA, for Indiana and Ohio. Walking, he scattered apple seed through the hills and homesteads of the just-settled land, thus assuring the newcomers of pies, fresh fruit — and good hard cider.